2020 Michigan Primary Recommendations

Every seat in the Michigan state house is up for election in 2020, and many seats are open due to term limits.  The house has been run by its more conservative wing for the past four years.  Continuing this trend will depend on conservatives winning primaries in August.  Here are my recommendations for who to support in Republican primaries.  Michigan Right to Life is abbreviated RTL.  Fundraising totals are available from Open Secrets.  Some races are hard evaluate, so additional information from readers is welcome.


3.  Tom Norton is the most conservative candidate here, but he seems unable to raise a significant amount of money.  He didn’t come close either time he ran for state representative.  Lynn Afendoulis is thoroughly establishment friendly.  Peter Meijer is a veteran and heir of the retail chain who seems to be somewhat more conservative than Afendoulis.  Joe Farrington has an eccentric platform.
5. Former state rep. Tim Kelly had a conservative record in office and is a credible candidate.
8. It will take a good candidate with good fundraising to beat incumbent democrat Elissa Slotkin.  Television anchor and Trump USCIS official Paul Junge has a decent resume and has raised by far the most money.  None of the other candidates have raised much money.  Mike Detmer is endorsed by Pat Colbeck.
10. State rep. Shane Hernandez is the clear choice here.  He was a Tea Party leader who has compiled one of the most conservative voting records in the state legislature, according to the American Conservative Union, MIRS, and RightMichigan.  He has been endorsed by conservative organizations including Gun Owners of America, Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, Michigan Trump Republicans, and Tea Party Express.  He has also been endorsed by many conservative legislators, including Jack Brandenberg, Leon Drolet, Pam Hornberger, and Tom Leonard, plus many more establishment-friendly colleagues.  Neither of his opponents have a conservative track record.
11. The field of candidates to take on incumbent democrat Haley Stevens is quite weak.  Nurse/lawyer Eric Esshaki and businesswoman Carmelita Greco have raised the most money.  Whitney Williams is endorsed by former state rep. Jeff Noble.  Former Congressman Kerry Bentivolio had a conservative voting record, but was ineffective in Congress and is a weak candidate.

State House:

19. Penny Crider was district director for senator Pat Colbeck.  Martha Ptashnik has support from establishment groups.
20. Marine veteran John Lacny has the RTL endorsement.
21. Businesswoman Laurel Hess has the RTL endorsement.
25. Jazmine Early and Adam Wiley both seem to be fairly conservative.
38. Activist Chase Turner almost won a primary against an incumbent in 2018.  He is endorsed by RTL and Pat Colbeck.
41. Firefighter Evan Agnello has the RTL endorsement.
47. Livingston GOP chair Meghan Reckling worked for conservative Senator Lana Theis, who endorsed her. Wes Nakagiri and Tom Leonard have also endorsed her.
48. County commissioner David Martin is a credible candidate who has the RTL endorsement.
56. Bedford Township trustee TC Clements seems to be the only credible candidate, as his opponent is 19.  He has the RTL endorsement.
58. Prosecutor and realtor Daren Wiseley has a solidly conservative platform.
59. Steve Carra is a legislative staffer for solid conservative state representative Steve Johnson.  He has a true commitment to conservative values.
61. Trump campaign aide Bronwyn Haltom has establishment support and a big fundraising lead.  IT specialist Tom Graham has the NRA endorsement and a somewhat eclectic platform.
62. Pennfield Township Supervisor Dave Morgan, a former democrat, is running again after narrowly losing in 2018.  The other candidates might be fine in a safe district, but Morgan seems the best choice to flip this D-held seat.
70. Postmaster and pastor Martin Ross has the RTL endorsement.  Pat Outman, son of state rep and senator Rick Outman, is endorsed by conservative incumbent Jim Lower.
71. Former Eaton County commissioner Christine Barnes is running again.  Businesswoman Gina Johnsen has much better fundraising and is fairly conservative.
73. Businessman Robert Regan, who finished second in 2014 and 2018, is the most conservative and has some grassroots support.
79. Pauline Wendzel is an incumbent with a reasonably conservative record.
83. Teacher Tim Keller is a conservative former Tea Party leader.  He has been endorsed by the 10th district GOP and conservative leaders including Pat Colbeck, Tom McMillin and Wes Nakagiri.
100. Incumbent Scott VanSingel has a rather disappointing voting record.  Oceana County Commissioner Andrew Sebolt is solidly conservative.
101. Incumbent Jack O’Malley faces a primary from Carolyn Cater, who seems to be somewhat more conservative.
104. AFP organizer Heather Cerone seems to be more conservative than Grand Traverse County Republican Party chairman John Roth.
105. Otsego County Commissioner Ken Borton is the most conservative candidate.  Tony Cutler is a teacher who finished second in the 2014 primary.  Jimmy Schmidt is a former democrat.
107. Documentary producer John Damoose is the most conservative candidate in a large field.  He has the sole RTL endorsement.

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  13 comments for “2020 Michigan Primary Recommendations

  1. Jason
    July 13, 2020 at 8:19 am

    Re: 104th

    Both of them friends and conservative capable. Roth gave up his chairmanship when he officially declared. Both are NRA AQ, and I believe both enjoy the RTL nod.

    The tough part will be taking the primary winner over the hump in November. I am hoping money flows well from GOP types to support the winner, but given the manner in which Michigan's personal hitler has done harm to the real wealth builders, it may be tough.

    Democrats will smell blood here, and have been stalking the 104th for some time. Most of the spending in the district appears to be signs, and mailings are coming from outside groups for both candidates. A finance draining primary could have been avoided, but I will save that story for after Aug 4th.

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  2. Kevin Rex Heine
    July 14, 2020 at 9:10 am

    Full disclosure in that Tom Norton and I are pretty close friends (and have been for about 10½ years now).

    Having said that, I have noticed that one cannot drive a major road in any 3rd District municipality, for more than two miles, without seeing at least one "Norton for Congress" yard sign. What Tom lacks in funding, is well counterbalanced with a dedicated grassroots network (and an all-volunteer campaign staff of seasoned professionals).

    Also, I've been made aware that the Meijer for Congress campaign has been running weekly internal polling since the filing deadline. I was leaked a heads-up on one that was run four weeks ago (and not publicly published), showing Meijer and Norton within two points of each other (on a five-point margin of error), with Afendoulis eight points back, and both Farrington and Rafi in low single digits.

    The "poll" that Bado and Sadlier tweet-leaked is a joke, and if I can ever bulldoze my writer's block and actually get this R&A piece written and published, I'll gladly explain why that's so.

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  3. Debi Haas
    July 14, 2020 at 10:19 am

    I’m really baffled at the congressional race opinion that Kerry Bentivolio was ineffective in Congress. He actually had 3 conservative bills passed his first term, his voting record is 93% conservative the highest of any Congressman in Michigan, scored 100% to cutting government waste, rated 2nd most transparent in Congress, won 2 constituent awards and just the fact that he is the ONLY candidate running for the 11th congressional seat that has congressional experience and can hit the ground running is important. It is imperative especially right now that someone experienced gets in. We don’t have the time to ‘train’ someone. Having the most money might get you elected but it isn’t going to do diddly for helping you do the job. Haley Stevens will eat every other candidate alive so that makes Bentivolio the strongest candidate. DO YOUR HOMEWORK INSTEAD OF PRINTING FALSE MISLEADING AND DISTORTED INFORMATION. We the People deserve the truth not opinion.

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    • Conservative First
      July 16, 2020 at 1:40 am

      Kerry Bentivolio certainly had a conservative voting record, as I said in the article. Can you provide a source for the three bills you say he had passed? This source says he introduced 13 bills, of which one passed the house and none became law.
      As for his electoral track record, we have
      2010 state senate 15% LOST primary
      2012 congress 65% WON primary (against write-in)
      2012 congress 51% WON general (full term)
      2012 congress 46% LOST general (partial term)
      2014 congress 34% LOST primary
      2016 congress 4% LOST general (running as independent)
      2018 congress 11% LOST primary (last of five candidates)
      I don't see anything to suggest that he is a strong candidate.

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  4. Emily A Bauman
    July 14, 2020 at 11:40 am

    I appreciate Kevin Heine's reference to the fact that has been shared by Kerry Bentivolio is that it will take more than money to beat the Democrat incumbents. Kerry has also secured a dedicated group of highly skilled, grassroot volunteers who have been working diligently, supporting Kerry and reaching voters.

    As you mentioned, and as this page/group values, in the 13th Congress, Congressman Bentivolio's voting record was consistently conservative and he always had a valid explanation to support his vote.

    Also, Congressman Bentivolio is a member of RTL and did have the RTL endorsement previously. This time, though we do not know why, no one in the 11th was endorsed. He was recognized by the Susan B Anthony List as one of the Representatives who spoke out about the horrors of Gosnell--search the video of this on the House floor. As a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, Bentivolio is a lifetime member of NRA.

    Congressman Bentivolio's strength as a candidate is seen in the strength he had in Washington to fight for religious freedom, 2nd Amendment, sanctity of life, fiscal conservatism and cutting government waste.

    The only way to beat Haley Stevens will be to put Congressman against Congresswoman.

    Yes, I am one of the grassroot supporters--but nothing I have said here can be disputed and is available in his record via google searches or check out the Operational Plan on the website: kerrybentivolio.com

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  5. Emily A Bauman
    July 14, 2020 at 11:43 am

    correction--Congressman Bentivolio was in the 113th congress

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  6. Conservative First
    July 16, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Here are the second quarter congressional fundraising numbers, so you can see how the candidates are doing.

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  7. Sue Schwatrz
    July 17, 2020 at 10:23 am

    Sometimes I wish I could vote in other races too. Gina Johnson (71) is a workhorse and extremely knowledgeable on legislative affairs. The 104, the statement that Cerone is more conservative is probably true. I've seen the mailings from Roth and am very concerned about the organizations funding them. Just feel we'll get another Wayne Schmidt with him. It has always been disgusting for me that "s/he who has the most money wins". It's right up there with "he who dies with the most boys toys, wins." Jack O'Malley (101) has sided more than not with the left. This is very disappointing.

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    • Conservative First
      July 27, 2020 at 4:41 pm

      The July state house fundraising numbers are available.
      Given Gina Johnsen's fundraising, I think she is the better candidate in 71.

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    • Conservative First
      July 27, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      Wayne Schmidt donated to Tony Cutler (105) and Kathy Twardy (107), which ought to discourage any conservative from voting for them.
      Schmidt also donated to Roth.

      You Betcha! (1)Nuh Uh.(0)
  8. Conservative First
    August 2, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    I added recommendations for Evan Agnello, Gina Johnsen, and Andrew Sebolt.

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  9. Conservative First
    August 3, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Good reason to not vote for Andrew Fink in district 58.

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  10. Olivia
    August 4, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Can’t find barely any info on the republicans running for state legislature in 29th district! At least Vernon Molnar has a photo and a Facebook. But literally nothing other than he wants to fix roads, a more permanent solution to crumbling roads. Other than that, he has 3 older kids, he’s divorced, and likes music lol? So I guess he has my vote because there’s Absolutely Nothing on the other guy, “S. Dave Sullivan”, not even a photo. This is pathetic. I have no idea what either of these guys stand for. It’s like they’ve been scrubbed from the internet, especially Sullivan. If anyone knows anything, please share.

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